In the 1964 movie, “Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster”, King Ghidorah was a gigantic, dragon-like creature that came from outer space. It had three heads on long necks, bat-like wings, no arms, and twin tails. It terrorized Tokyo until Godzilla, in a role reversal as protector rather than destroyer, defeated it in a terrible battle and chased it back into outer space.
As a leader, you don’t have to go to the movies to face Ghidorah. You do it every day. Ghidorah is the three-headed monster of fear, failure, and self-doubt. How you deal with the triple threat will determine to a great extent how your career develops.
Though fear, failure and self-doubt are each separate, they cannot be separated: The prospect of failure can lead to fear of failure, and fear of failure can lead to self-doubt, which closes the cycle by leading back to fear of failure.
Of course, this is not strictly linear. Three-headed Ghidorah is comprised of any number of combinations. For instance, self-doubt may lead to failure or failure may lead to self-doubt, which leads to fear.
Don’t concern yourself with the combinations that can afflict you. Concern yourself instead with how to deal with Ghidorah. The first thing to understand about how to deal with the monster is that if you’re NOT dealing with Ghidorah, you’re doing something wrong. Leadership is not about living an easy life for ourselves but a hard life for other people and for the organizations you serve. Fear, failure, and self doubt are a natural outcomes of good leadership.
That’s especially so for leaders who are trying to motivate people to meet extraordinary challenges.
You’ll never know how good you are as a leader unless you are motivating others to be better than they think they are. In that endeavor, you’ll inevitably get at least some of the people angry.
Most people are settled into a comfortable status quo and resist and resent being challenged to break out.
But if you aim to get great results, people not only have to be pushed but more importantly, they must be challenged to push themselves.
So, if you’re not getting some people angry with you over the pushing, you’re doing something wrong as a leader, you’re not challenging people enough.
The second thing is that if you face Ghidorah head on, you’ll find that fear, failure and self-doubt are your benefactors; for Ghidorah can be your partner in achieving limitless results.
For instance, I worked with the CEO of a company that proved results are limitless. In the 1930s, the company was making tea bag paper. Over the years, they kept changing and improving their products so today they are making high tech thermoplastics. Going from making tea bag paper to high tech thermoplastics involved innovation, hard work, and great leadership. My bet is that fear, failure and self-doubt were driving factors in that three-generation, results-are-limitless evolution.
Don’t simply overcome Ghidorah. Instead, use Ghidorah — use fear, failure and self-doubt as your results-partner. To do so, you need to cultivate your inner, submerged strengths.
An assault by Ghidorah is an opportunity for us to manifest strengths we did not know we possessed.
“I’m afraid I might fail.” – We can manifest perseverance.
“I doubt if I can do this.” — We can be innovative.
“I have failed.” — We can evince patience, tenacity, and resilience.
My leadership processes, which today may look simple, clear, and robust, were developed with my grappling countless times with Ghidorah. There is not a process I teach that did not have its birth in a failure of one kind or another. Often, I really didn’t understand the process until I first failed in trying to put it into action. I have to give Ghidorah much of the credit for their success.
Over time, as we keep manifesting our strengths in the face of Ghidorah’s assaults, we tend to avoid getting carried away by appearances or our mercurial desires but instead will gradually actualize a centered leadership. The more we assess our strengths in times of affliction, the more easily assessable those strengths become.
But that’s not all. Here’s the final secret: We manifest these strengths not just for ourselves but also for the people we lead; for when we face Ghidorah, we show others the path; and in doing so, help them tap into their own inner strengths, creating a motivational bond between you.
King Ghidorah was brought to life on the movie screen by a stunt actor inside an elaborate costume, with a team of puppeteers controlling the beast’s many appendages. When tough challenges call forth Ghidorah in your leadership, you may see that the creature is, similarly, not substance but the dazzle of our minds and emotions, reminding us that leadership begins not when we grasp at outward appearances but when hold to our center and the resources flowing from that center.